A Compassionate Self Is a True Self? Self-Compassion Promotes Subjective Authenticity

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2019 Sep;45(9):1323-1337. doi: 10.1177/0146167218820914. Epub 2019 Jan 18.


Theory and research converge to suggest that authenticity predicts positive psychological adjustment. Given these benefits of authenticity, there is a surprising dearth of research on the factors that foster authenticity. Five studies help fill this gap by testing whether self-compassion promotes subjective authenticity. Study 1 found a positive association between trait self-compassion and authenticity. Study 2 demonstrated that on days when people felt more self-compassionate, they also felt more authentic. Study 3 discovered that people experimentally induced to be self-compassionate reported greater state authenticity relative to control participants. Studies 4 and 5 recruited samples from multiple cultures and used a cross-sectional and a longitudinal design, respectively, and found that self-compassion predicts greater authenticity through reduced fear of negative evaluation (Study 4) and heightened optimism (Study 5). Across studies, self-compassion's effects on authenticity could not be accounted for by self-esteem. Overall, the results suggest that self-compassion can help cultivate subjective authenticity.

Keywords: authenticity; fear of negative evaluation; optimism; self-compassion; self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Optimism
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Report
  • Shame
  • United States
  • Young Adult